It may seem odd to talk about being single on a site that’s all about dating later in life. Yet time spent alone after a long-term relationship can make it easier to date. It can also make the next relationship better than ever.
Before I met Daisy, I had three serious relationships that had failed. After the last one, I blamed myself for not being relationship material. So, I decided that I was going to remain single, probably for the rest of my life.
In hindsight, being temporarily single is what made it possible for me to get into a relationship that wasn’t doomed to fail.
One of the things I wanted to do as a new single was to return to therapy. Even though I was committed to remaining single, I wanted to understand why my relationships failed. It bugged me. What was I doing wrong?
In How to Be Single After a Long-Term Relationship, I talk about why that experience helped.
“That commitment to self-examination proved to be the key to getting to know myself. Gaining such an understanding made all my relationship mistakes crystal clear. Hindsight’s a beautiful thing when it hits!
Self-knowledge also made it possible for me to confidently re-enter the world of dating.
Although the future can never be as crystal clear as the past, I no longer feared that I was simply going to repeat one bad relationship after another. I could now see the red flags that someone probably wasn’t a good choice for a partner or even a friend.”
Reasons to Be Single After a Long-Term Relationship
So, why be single after a long relationship? There are several reasons to spend some time alone after a divorce or breakup from a serious relationship.
Examine Our Role in Dysfunctional Relationships
Dr. Seth Meyers writes in The Biggest Mistake People Make After a Breakup,
“The motivation to start a new relationship is often an attempt at emotional avoidance. Rather than confront uncomfortable feelings, an individual propels himself or herself into a relationship for a quick mood and ego boost. Avoidance as a strategy, however, is dysfunctional because it is impulsive, born out of childlike wishes and fantasies as opposed to the thought-through, long-term thinking and planning that should characterize adult decision-making.”
Meyers goes on to say that the primary purpose of time alone post-breakup is to grieve the loss and to learn from it. It’s helpful for the person to question their role in the dysfunctional relationship that ended.
- “What was my part in co-creating the dysfunction?”
- “What will I do differently in the next relationship?”
The point is not to assign blame to themselves or their ex, but to understand their role.
Discover Ideal Partner Qualities
Relationships can end because of incompatibility. Not everyone wants the same things in life.
A partner who wants a big family won’t get along well with someone who has little desire to be a parent. An introvert will probably have much different interests than an extrovert.
Yet our ideal partner qualities can change depending on whether or not we’re single.
In How to Be a Savvy Single, Tyler Jamison Ph.D. says,
“The best time to evaluate what we want in a partner is when we are single. Research shows that when we’re in a relationship, we idealize our partners’ traits. This makes sense—if you want to stay in a relationship, it’s helpful to believe what they have is what you want. However, with some time alone, we may gain more clarity about what we really want and need in a partner.”
Differences are to be expected and welcomed. However, being polar opposites in important areas can be divisive enough to end the relationship. That’s why it pays to clearly understand those things which could be deal-breakers.
Being Single Can Strengthen Social Connections
Dr. Jamison goes on to say that long-term singles tend to build a network of family and friends.
“Research shows single people are more likely than partnered people to support their social group and maintain relationships over life transitions.”
Such social connections support partners when faced with external challenges.
Single Life – an Opportunity for Self-Care
Being single is an opportunity to do the things you want. Various studies found that singles tend to exercise more and eat healthier. They also tend to focus on work, hobbies, and other meaningful passions.
Such self-care ultimately makes them a healthier person, which in turn makes them a better future partner.
Final Thoughts on Being Single
It’s normal and healthy to desire emotional attachment in a relationship. Resist the urge to dive right into a new relationship immediately after a breakup.
Spending time alone is key. Learn to live comfortably and happily as a single person.
Who knows, you may discover that the single life is what you truly want. It’s just as valid and healthy a choice as is living with a partner.
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